Letters and Heads – Woodcut Book

Poems by W. S. Graham and Woodcuts by
Douglas Thomson

In these uncompromising black and white woodcuts – all depict figures (heads only) and all share an amazing power to haunt. At first glance, there is a simple, almost childishly stylised representation of a face. As one continues to look, though, it stares back, and as one seeks to ask questions about the human being depicted, you find that it seems almost to be asking questions about you.

About Letters and Heads

The two elements which make this dramatic production came from quite different directions and owe their linking entirely to a decision by us as publishers. On the one hand, we took a text which had become important to us and we caused it to appear alongside a freshly made set of images.We had a conviction that each would enhance and spark off the other – even though the poems have existed for many years and the artist was invited to cut the series of blocks without any reference to the text.

W.S.Graham’s poetry is highly regarded in many circles even though it may not yet have been caught up by full popular recognition. He wrote in London as well as Scotland but most of all in Cornwall where he was the friend of many painters. His poetic voice is one of the strongest of the post war years. Since we first his work in Glasgow we have also been highly impressed by the images of Douglas Thomson. Paintings, very large to quite small, coloured monotypes and uncompromisingly black and white woodcuts. By chance, both men were born in Greenock, at the mouth of the Clyde in Scotland – the poet exactly forty years before the artist. We feel that this other chance – the experimental coincidence that brought these images into contact with these words – has been satisfyingly successful.

Frances and Nicolas McDowall
The Old Stile Press
Cathmays Court, Llandogo
phone and fax 01291 689 226

The Old Stile Press